Neil Mannion (34) and Richard O’Connor (34), from Dublin, pleaded guilty for dark net related drug charges. The pair has been selling drugs on Agora and Silkroad and were in possession of €143,000 worth of drugs at a garda raid in south Dublin in October 2014.
Both men pleaded guilty to possession of LSD, amphetamine and cannabis resin with the intent to sell or supply at Bank House Business Centre, South Circular Road on November 5, 2014. Neither man has any previous convictions. Also, one of them works as a Bitcoin trader, the other as a film technician in ”real life”.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court stated that Mannion was the one who set up the dark web business and O’Connor was paid up to €600 a week to post the packages to customers worldwide.
Detective Sgt Roberts told Caroline Cummings BL from prosecution that the police placed Mannion under surveillance after they received confidential information about a computer’s IP address. They followed Mannion’s car to the business address and later obtained a search warrant. The Irish Gardaí found Mannion and O’Connor on the premises, along with a bag containing the drugs, a vacuum packing machine, weighing scales, envelopes and labels for posting.
Mannion took full responsibility for the drugs seized and described to the authorities how he sent out the orders to different countries after the money has been received (or stayed in escrow) from the customers. He also told gardai he hadn’t expected to get so many customers after creating an account on the dark net market, but that “things just flew”. He said he had “reasonable” financial success in the drug dealing business.
Roberts told the court that O’Connor, who is self-employed as a grip in the film industry, had a “secondary part” as he had been involved with the postage and packaging of the drugs only.
The detective sergeant agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC from Mannion’s defense that it was not difficult to access the dark web and anyone who was a “little tech-savvy” would be able to do so. Roberts also stated that Mannion “is not the normal type of criminal we deal with”.
Counsel described his client, Mannion, as “not a very mature person” who had been using cocaine and alcohol at the time. He submitted that his client had not made any significant money from drug dealing or had lived an ”extravagant lifestyle”.
Guerin, defending O’Connor, added the fact that O’Connor had a drug dependency at the time, however, he is now clean and could have a “bright future” in the film industry.
Judge Martin Nolan said he will think about the case over the weekend and make a decision on Monday. Both men stay in custody until then. The sentence is still yet to be heard by the judge.